Ivorian government, Earthworm Foundation and Nestlé scheme aims to save Cavally Forest

A major project to restore the Cavally Forest in Ivory Coast has intensified through a partnership initiated by the Ivorian government, Earthworm Foundation and Nestlé, reports Neill Barston.

The venture was started in 2020, and is now welcoming new contributors to achieve greater impact, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that had placed additional burdens on the West African cocoa supplying nation.

As the group noted, the collaboration includes the Swiss Federal Administration (SECO), the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests (MINEF), Nestlé, Touton and Cocoasource as well as Earthworm Foundation (EF).

This new collaboration, which started this week, follows in the footsteps of the initial, three-year project funded by Nestlé, which had run until the end of June. The preliminary results are very encouraging. During its first phase, the Cavally project led to a significant reduction in deforestation, the natural regeneration of 7 000 hectares, and the reforestation of almost 1 500 hectares. In addition, greater economic and social resilience has been observed within local communities, with more than 1 400 people benefiting financially from the project.

With a total investment of CHF 4 million, equivalent to XOF 2.7 billion, this new partnership goes beyond preserving the classified Cavally Forest. It also aims to strengthen the resilience of the communities in the forest’s peripheral zone and improve the transparency and traceability of the cocoa and rubber supply chain.

The Cavally project has four main objectives: including preventing deforestation and improve the ecosystem by stimulating natural regeneration and rehabilitating degraded areas in close collaboration with local communities. It also aims to improve the resilience of small-scale producers by helping them increase their productivity, achieve greater income diversification and gain easier access to financing.

In addition, it also aims to help protect the rights of the children of these producers by raising awareness and providing easier access to school, in particular by acquiring birth certificates.
To establish a more transparent supply chain for cocoa and rubber, in particular by improving traceability and exploring innovative solutions (including satellite monitoring) to increase the transparency of prices and payments to producers.

“During the first phase of the Cavally Forest regeneration project, we learned that there are various sides to the problem of deforestation in the area,” said Bastien Sachet, CEO of Earthworm Foundation, the organization leading the implementation of the project. “It is difficult to control such a large area. And the forest is attractive in terms of fertility and access to land for populations that are facing immense economic challenges. To combat deforestation and tackle the root causes of the problem, a collective approach based on creating value for producers and rural communities is required. This is why the presence of economic players in the rubber and cocoa value chains, coupled with a strong partnership with the government, is essential. It is the spirit of this collaboration that we are proud to be a part of.”

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